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EXCLUSIVE: 'Destination' hotel coming to historic strip of Fredericksburg, a Texas daytrip hotspot

Michael Barnes
Austin 360
The bulk of the Albert Hotel, set to be completed in summer 2022, will be a modernist building constructed of sympathetic materials and planned for mostly fallow land between East Main and East Austin streets in Fredericksburg. Four significant historic structures will be renovated for the hotel complex; none will be demolished.

Old and new will join hands in a hotel complex planned for the middle of historic Fredericksburg and slated to open in the summer of 2022. 

As visualized by Austin's New Waterloo hospitality group, the Albert Hotel will occupy what is now mostly fallow land between East Main and East Austin streets. No historic structures will be demolished; four will be renovated and incorporated into the hotel complex.

The main bulk of the hotel will consist of a light, modernist structure built of materials sympathetic to the existing buildings.

On Main Street, the hotel will match the scale and massing of the existing retail strip that attracts tens of thousands of tourists every year. The entrance to main building will, however, will be on Austin Street, already home to the modernist George H.W. Bush Gallery at the Museum of the Pacific War a block away.

“The hotel environment is a push-pull of masculine and feminine, historic and new," says Melanie Raines, director of design for new Waterloo. It "nods to Fredericksburg's future, while the interior design reflects the softer side of (the) Albert's global sensibilities.’’

A small stone building, the 1870 Brockman-Kiehne House, located on the grounds facing Austin Street, will become a barbecue joint. It once served as a "Sunday House" for German American farmers or ranchers who needed a place to stay when visiting town. Two larger retail buildings that face Main Street will count among the hotel's three restaurants and two bars.

The entrance to the new Albert Hotel will be on East Austin Street. Although lighter and more airy, the building's modernism echoes the George H.W. Bush Gallery at the National Museum of the Pacific War one block to the east.

The Albert Hotel is expected to feature 109 guest rooms, a pool and a spa, as well as indoor and outdoor event spaces. A two-level, 160 space parking garage will be located directly across East Austin Street.

Designed by the Austin-based architecture firm Clayton Korte, in partnership with New Waterloo, the main modernist building will use wood, limestone brick, stone and steel that is intended to complement the existing buildings, but look clearly differentiated.

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The hotel is named for architect, preservationist and outgoing Fredericksburg personality, Albert Keidel, who died in 2010 at age 100.

Albert's great-grandfather, Dr. Wilhelm Keidel, arrived in Fredericksburg as the town doctor and judge in 1847, the year after the town was founded.

Albert's father, Victor Keidel, a doctor and pharmacist, rode his palomino at the head of the town's centennial parade.

The hotel is located on the site where the Keidel family pharmacy and homestead remain, both of which will be integrated into the complex.

The East Main Street façade of the planned Albert Hotel will fit into the scale and massing of the surrounding historical buildings. The two older buildings to the right will serve as a saloon and a café for the hotel complex.

“New Waterloo worked with the Keidel family to execute a vision that transforms their original family homestead into a one-of-a-kind hospitality destination," says Patrick Jeffers, partner and chief development officer at New Waterloo. "The historical significance, beauty and character of the existing buildings, along with their location in the golden blocks of town, capture the soul of the Hill Country."

The "golden blocks" are those at the center of the Fredericksburg strip along Main Street.

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An event lawn will incorporate old and new elements at the Albert Hotel in Fredericksburg.

Nothing quite like this complex has been added to the town's mix, which has been a traveler's haven since the 1840s. The Nimitz Hotel, decorated to look a seagoing vessel, for instance, was the home of Admiral Chester Nimitz, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet during World War II. It was recently renovated as part of the National Museum of the Pacific War as an extensive exhibit about the admiral's life.

The New Waterloo Group has been known for several innovative yet sensitive projects in Austin and Santa Fe, N.M. The largest is the South Congress Hotel, which despite its modernity, slips easily into the old commercial fabric of the famed tourist avenue.

Other New Waterloo projects include Hotel Ella, El Rey Court, La Condesa, Sway, Café No Sé, Mañana, Central Standard, Otoko, Il Brutto and Butler Pitch & Putt. With the exception of the original Sway on South First Street, all of them have survived the crash of the hospitality industry during the pandemic.

The White Elephant Saloon, photographed in 1970 by the Texas Historical Commission, will be revived as part of the Albert Hotel complex. The empty lot to the left will be the site for the Main Street portion of the hotel.

The Fredericksburg project encompasses the properties located between 242 to 248 East Main Street. The White Elephant Saloon, with its striking elephant in bas relief on the façade, has not been a bar since the Prohibition Era, but has housed several retail spaces over the years. It will reopen under its original name as a beer and whiskey bar that is open to the public as well as hotel guests.

The Keidel Pharmacy building will become a café and coffee shop called, naturally, Keidel Pharmacy, with market-style counter service with daily seasonal items, pastries, breads, along with local goods and gifts. 

Michael Barnes writes about the people, places, culture and history of Austin and Texas. He can be reached at mbarnes@statestman.com.